Sunday, September 29, 2013

HOW TO BEAR PRACTICALLY YOUR CROSS - By H.H. Pope Shenouda III





The cross is a sign of love, bestowal, sacrifice, and redemption, which you carry each time you are tired in view of the practice of these virtues.

1. Try to get tired for the rest of another 

For his deliverance and his service; and be confident that God does never forget the fatigue of charity, "and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor" (1 Cor. 3:8).... Train yourself to give: whatever you bestow and support and sacrifice..... and train yourself to give from your necessities, as the blessed widow had done (Luke 21:4)........ Get tired in your service, because it is as much as you get tired, so much your love will appear, and therefore your sacrifice.

2. The Cross is also a sign of sufferings and endurance 

The sufferings which the Lord endured for us, whether the sufferings of the body, of which He said: "They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones" (Ps. 22: 16-17) ....... or the sufferings of shame which He joyfully endured for us, that is He was rejoicing for our salvation.
Therefore the apostle said about Him: "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame" (Heb: 12:2). How great is the endurance when it is joyfully done. That is a lesson for us. While you suffer a cross, if you endure the tribulation of the cross for the Lord, or if you encounter persecution because of your justice, or if you are hit with disease or weakness for that...... likewise if you endure the wearisome deeds of people without taking revenge for yourself, but rather you turn the other cheek, and you walk the second mile, and do not resist an evil person (Matt. 5:39), but rather you act with patience, ... and patience is a cross, ... whether your endurance is within the circle of the family, or in the field of service, or in relation to your work.

3. You will bear a cross, if you crucify the flesh with its passions  (Gal. 5:24)  

You make efforts to crucify a craving or a guilty desire, and you conquer yourself. You crucify your thoughts each time they want to make you wandering. Likewise you restrain your senses, you bridle your tongue, you constrain yourself, and forbid your body to take food, enduring hunger, keeping away from every appetising food, and from every corporal pleasure and from the love of money.

4. You bear your cross in your self-denial, by taking the last place
 
By not seeking dignity, by your giving up your rights, by not taking your reward on earth, by preferring others to yourself in everything with love that "does not seek its own" (1 Cor. 13:5), by humility and renouncement, and by keeping away from praise and dignity.

5. You bear your cross by bearing the sins of others, because our Lord the Christ has done so.

There is no objection that you would bear the guilt of another one and be punished for that instead of him; or that you bear the responsibilities of another one, and to carry them on instead of him. And as saint Paul said to Philemon about Onesimus: "But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. I, Paul, an writing with my own hand, I will repay" (Philemon 18-19)...... As much as you can, participate in the sufferings of others, and carry them in their place. Be a cyrenian bearing the cross of another.

H.H. Pope Shenouda III



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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I WISH YOUR GLORY WOULD NEVER DEPART FROM ME





From the inspiration of Ezekiel  (10) 
 
You are not in need for my little heart.
Heaven and earth are full of Your glory!
I wish Your glory would not depart from me.
You, whom all the heavenliness glorify!

I confess to You with my tears and the sighs of my heart!
By my sins and transgressions, I drive Your glory away from myself.
I grieve Your Holy Spirit that dwells in me.
Yet You do not wish Your glory to depart from my heart!

You are in no need for proclaiming Your glory in me;
Yet Your amazing love wishes to proclaim it in me!
To be glorified in me!
And to make me worthy of the fellowship of Your eternal glory!


Fr. Tadros Malaty
From the Inspiration of The Book of Ezekiel


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Friday, September 20, 2013

Accept God's Comfort





The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness
 
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 
I will fear no evil;
 
For You are with me;
 
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
 Psalm 23:1-4

These words have often been the source of solace and peace.  Few other biblical passages contain such beautiful imagery.  The reason why people are so uplifted by the Shepherd's Psalm is because it describes the comfort we dream  of having during trials.  But it doesn't have to be a dream! It is available in Jesus Christ right this minute.

This comfort doesn't come with a mere snapping of our fingers.  We must accept God's comfort or we will not possess it.  To receive this emotional healing we cannot cling to our hurts.  They must be dropped just outside the gate to the green pastures.  Then both hands and heart will open to receive soothing restoration of soul and spirit. 


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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Prayer


Make us worthy to pray thankfully

Our Father Who art in heaven; hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, in Christ Jesus our Lord. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

THE PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.

O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.

Therefore, we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of mankind, to grant us to complete this holy day, and all the days of our life, in all peace with Your fear. All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, take them away from us, and from all Your people, and from this holy place that is Yours.

But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us; for it is You Who have given us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, by the grace, compassion and love of mankind, of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, through Whom the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the adoration are due unto You, with Him, and the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, Who is of one essence with You, now and at all times, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Acquire Grace and Mercy




Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord  
(2 Timothy 1:2)


Meet the sisters of peace: Grace and Mercy. The first is the ability to give to others that which they do not deserve; the second is the ability to withhold from others that reproof which they do deserve.  When these qualities are interwoven in our living, the end result will be peace.

God is the only one who has the absolute control of grace and mercy because they are inherent in His character.  In fact, these two gems are beyond our human capabilities.  If we are to be equipped to demonstrate exclusively God-like characteristics, then we must be endowed by God.

Scripture says God gives more grace to the humble (John 4:6), and that mercy can be obtained through prayer. (Heb. 4:16)  So then, by reverently seeking the Lord in prayer we can acquire grace and mercy to help us in our time of need.  In turn, we will be able to show grace and mercy unto others.  Always on the heels of the first two sisters is the third sister-Peace.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Feast of Nayrouz - By H.H. Pope Shenouda III




The Feast of Nayrouz   


By H.H. Pope Shenouda III 
 
The Feast of the Nayrouz means the feast of commemorating the martyrs and we do not commemorate the martyrs once a year, but it is as if we commemorate them every day. If those amongst you read the Synaxarium you will find that every day it says, “In this day the Church commemorates…” and inevitably they contain a number of martyrs. 



The Feasts for the martyrs is not just a feast unique to the Coptic Orthodox Church   only, but all the churches have some form of commemoration for the martyrs. This is because the martyrs have in the church a special position which is greater than all the saints of the church. It is greater than all the patriarchs in the service and all the monks in the contemplative life. The martyrs occupy the number one position but the question is why? 



The martyrs in their martyrdom demonstrated the deepest form of love towards God. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” Jn15:13. The martyrs loved God more than their personal lives, and they laid down that life for Him. In their martyrdom they not only displayed the depth of their love to God, but it also contains the depth of their courage. 

It was with the depth of courage that they witnessed to Christ publicly even though the consequences of that witness may have lead to their death. This is why St. John the Baptist for example, whom the Lord described as, “among those born of women there was not risen one greater than John the Baptist” Mt11:11, was a witness and a martyr at the same time. It is very likely that the term ‘martyr’ came from the term ‘to witness’, to witness to the faith, even if this ultimately lead to the person’s death for the sake of that witness. 



We notice that our fathers the apostles who received the faith from Our Lord Jesus Christ and spread it in the world, almost all ended their lives with martyrdom. This is with the exception of St. John the beloved who ended up being severely tortured more than those who were martyred.

The martyrs therefore have the depth of love for God whom they loved more than their lives. They also have the depth of faith. The faith which they held onto until death and this faith was not stopped by any threats or sufferings. They fulfilled the true depth of our Lord Jesus Christ’s command, “you shall be witnesses to Me” Act 1:8. 



Furthermore they were an incredible example to all the generations in witnessing to the faith and being steadfast despite all the torture and persecutions. They are the ones who preserved the faith for us with their blood until it was given to us intact. This is why we consider the martyrs to be the seeds of faith, and the foundation of faith in the church. 



It is possible for any one to witness to the Lord but it is not possible for just any one to die because of their witness to the Lord. They were therefore an example to all the believers in their love, and in their faith, and in their witness to the Lord, and also for their courage. When you read the stories of each one of these saints you find that they had complete faith in their witness to the Lord, and they had exceptional courage. In their steadfastness and bearing their sufferings they were brave. 



Martyrdom began from the beginning of Christianity and has remained with her throughout her journey through time. It started from the beginning of Christianity for as our Lord said, “In the world you will have tribulation” Jn 16:33. Many are those who tried to run away from this tribulation but the martyrs did not run away from tribulation, rather they bore it and persevered through it. He said to them, “the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” Jn 16:2. He also said to them, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” Mt 10:19. When Our Lord Christ called people to Christianity, He did not call them to a path strewn with rose petals, but He told them you will be taking a path containing tribulation and the threat of death. 

Despite this they bore, and were patient, and steadfast all their lives. There even came a time when death was desired by people. It was not just the overcoming of the fear of death but it had become a desire for them to depart this world and be with Christ. As St. Paul says, “having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” Phi 1:23. To the extent that once 30000 Copts went out of Damanhour towards Alexandria seeking martyrdom and they sang hymns and praised God on the way. Death had become a desire to them. 



When the day of St. Fam the Soldier had arrived he wore his finest clothes, and when they asked him about why he had done this he said that today was the day of his wedding feast and that he was going to the wedding feast. St. Antony, the father all of all the monks also sought martyrdom, despite monasticism being an escape from the world it was never an escape from martyrdom. He came out of the wilderness to Alexandria seeking martyrdom. He would on many occasions strengthen the believers publicly in front of the people, but God did not permit for him to be martyred for God had preserved him for another purpose.



What is amazing is that someone like St. John the Baptist received his martyrdom whilst Christ was still on the earth. It was possible for Christ to have save him if He so wished. However Our Lord allowed for him to be martyred so that He can add to St. John’s crowns the crown of martyrdom. 



From those martyrs who loved martyrdom there is also the great St. Ignatius the Bishop of Antioch and who the Antiochian patriarchs are named after to this day. They take the name Mar Ignatius as well as another name. This saint was being taken to Rome to be martyred, and the believers in Rome wanted to save him from death, and kidnap him from his captors and prevent him from being brought before the emperor. St. Ignatius sent them a remarkable letter which can be found in the writings of the apostolic fathers, as he is considered an apostolic father. In it he tells them quite plainly that he feared that their love for him was going to cause him harm. Having laboured all this way in his life to this point are they going to cause him to begin the journey again? They are going to throw him to the lions and that if the lions did not eat him, he will provoke them into eating him. It is a wonderful letter in the writings of the apostolic fathers. This saint was ultimately thrown to the lions that devoured him, but in that night he appeared in the spirit to the believers and strengthened them. 

The people by martyrdom use to feel the approaching joy of meeting Christ, and meeting those in heaven, and this was for them far more important than the joys of this earth. So in addition to their faith in Christ and Christianity they believed in heaven and the angels, etc… 



They use to consider death the quickest way to paradise. The strike of the sword took a minute or part of a minute. This was insignificant compared to finding themselves in the arms of Christ all of a sudden. Even the mothers would encourage their children with this understanding as they faced martyrdom. Martyrdom enlisted all types of people from the community: children, youth and elders, women and men. For example, St. Demiana was martyred and the forty other virgins with her. She rebuked her father initially when he fled from martyrdom; he then returned and gained the crown of martyrdom. Her father was a ruler over the area of Zaafaran. 



The most severe persecution for Christians came during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. This is why from the beginning of the reign of this emperor we started the Coptic calendar. I told you that they looked upon martyrdom as the quickest and most secure way to entering paradise, but that depended on them being martyred straight away. However there were those who were not that fortunate and were tortured for long periods. Often it took someone to intervene and try to influence the officials to martyr the person. 



It was bearing this torture which raises their importance as well. There was also during these times of torture a special grace granted to them which allowed them to bear the suffering, and be patient in their pain. When you hear the stories of the martyrs and what kind of tortures they went through, you are amazed and ask how could they have accepted all this? There is no doubt that there was a special grace that protected them. It protected them in bearing the pain, and in being steadfast in the faith despite all their sufferings. 



I told you that the severest persecution was during the time of Emperor Diocletian but that does not mean that the persecution has ended. When we talk about St. Peter the seal of the martyrs it does not mean that martyrdom has ended. When we talk about ‘the seal of martyrs’ it may mean that he was the last Pope to be martyred by the Roman Empire. It could also be a reference to him being the last Pope in whose papacy the communal martyrdom ended, because martyrdom can take place to individuals or it could take place to entire cities. For example the city of Isna, is called the city of martyrs because the entire city was martyred. Also like the Theban Legion which involved the martyrdom of over 6000 individuals. 



It was through these martyrdom and steadfastness that they embarrassed the state. It was either for the state to win over the Copts and for them to become her support, by stopping the persecution, or it losses them without gain. The state eventually ended the persecution and the Emperor Constantine in the Edict of Milan of 313AD granted the freedom of religion and the Copts were no longer killed because of their Christianity. 



We want to know how the Church prepared her children for martyrdom. It prepared them with a deep steadfast faith and it would tell them of what use to happen in the days of the early church and our fathers the apostles including the great miracles that took place. It also prepared them with the books of those who defended the faith or the apologetics. They would also encourage them by telling them that the time is near, and the Lord is coming soon. They would often write in their letters the term ‘maran atha’ meaning ‘The Lord is coming’. The term ‘maran’ in the Syrian language means ‘the lord’ and ‘atha’ means ‘coming’. They would also say that the Lord is near. 



They also encouraged them in strengthening their spiritual lives, so the life of chastity spread, not just for the sake of a love for the life of chastity, but at the least so as not to bear children to worry over in the time of persecution and death. This is why St. Paul when he talks about his life of chastity says, “But I want you to be without care.” 1 Cor 7:31. When he talks about being without care, he means without care in the time of persecution as to what will happen to their children. 



Furthermore the Church took care of the families of those martyred and provided for them. The Church also took care of the relics of the martyrs. St. Youlios began to write the stories of the martyrs and preserve the relics of the martyrs. 



The time of persecution use to be a time of strengthened faith and not weakness. Spirituality becomes deeper during the time of persecution, the fast becomes deeper, the prayer becomes deeper, and the relationship with God becomes deeper. 



The final point I would like to bring to your attention, is what do we benefit from the Feast of the Nayrouz? Its spiritual lessons is not just that we have a fascination for the faith, courage, steadfastness of the martyrs and we become proud that we are the children of the martyrs.

The spiritual lesson is that we must walk in their ways. St. Augustine was once asked by someone, he wished to be martyred but how could he given that the era of martyrdom had passed? St Augustine said to him, if your heart has the same desire as the martyr then you are counted as a martyr. Having the desire of the martyr means you have no desire or care for this world. Notice that the church also use to encourage the believers by telling them the same thing and not to have a care for this world. When ever they attended church it would tell them “Do not love the world or the things in the world… the world is passing away, and all the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever” 1 Jn 2:15,17. A continually repeated lesson for the believers. 



There was once a monk who wished to be martyred. He was advised not to leave the monastery but despite the advice not to go down this route he refused and he stubbornly went out. He entered the wilderness and there he found a group of Bedouin camped who spotted him and brought him to the camp, and these Bedouin were cannibals, and they planned to do horrible things to him before they chopped him up and ate him. The man began to shake, and became very scared. He remembered the advice of his spiritual father and how he told him to stay away from this path. He started praying that God would save him from these people. If it weren’t for a large group of armed merchants arriving on the scene he would not have lived. The Bedouin escaped, but by the time the Bedouin escaped his nerves had escaped and he was found by the merchants a nervous wreck. Therefore do not think that martyrdom is an easy thing. 



We are also in the beginning of a new Coptic Year, in this new year we pray for a good beginning, and we advice that you should take at least one virtue and train your self in it. Take the virtue of long-suffering for example. Train yourself to accept bad word from others against you or the insult of others and so on. 



Glory be to God forever Amen.

H.H. Pope Shenouda III 

A Sermon on- 13 September 2006  




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Sunday, September 8, 2013

11 - YOUR SELF IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD - By H.H. Pope Shenouda III





11 - YOUR SELF IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD 
By H.H. Pope Shenouda III

The following is a collection of articles entitled, "The Release of the Spirit" written by HH Pope Shenouda III for the Sunday School Magazine from the year 1951 before starting his monastic life.  

These articles were published in the form of a book in the year 1957 including some of his poems which were published in the magazine as well.. 

It was his first published book and it gained the approval of many and was reprinted many times.

11 - YOUR SELF IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD 

Again, my beloved brother, I want to talk to you about your 'self; that which you sometimes love and trust more than God... Unless you deny yourself, you will never enjoy the beauty of the release of the spirit. 

As love is the first commandment in Christianity, self-denial is the main path leading to love.. You cannot love God and people as long as you are concerned only about yourself and your pleasures.. So, be released first from this self, for the Lord glory be to Him says, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."  (Mark. 8:34) 

Thus, the Lord made self-denial the first requirement.

My beloved brother, let your aim be to conceal yourself in God so as not to have an independent existence separate from Him.. Say along with St. Paul the Apostle, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."  (Gal. 2:20) 

If you ever wish to have glory, let your glory be from God and in God's sight.. and repeat always the verse which says, "O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself." (John 17:5)  Do not seek glory in the worldly things because".. the world is passing away, and the lust of it" (1 John 2:17)  But you, who are the son of God.".. you are the temple of God and.. the Spirit of God dwells in you.." (1 Cor. 3:16)  You are born,"..  not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13)  That soul of yours is from God, a breath of His mouth.. In every Mass, you partake of the Holy Flesh and Blood of God to be one with Him and abide in Him as He wants.. Why then do you neglect such a great glory to seek another in the dust? 

Why are you concerned about what others say of you and why do you become pleased when they praise you and defend yourself when they attack you? Why do you beg their approval by talking about yourself My brother, I am afraid you still love the dust and the glory of it! Is your self still an idol which you give sacrifices and offerings to? Deny yourself, my dear, and give all your love to God alone.. Say along with John the Baptist, "He must increase, but I must decrease."  (John 3:30) 

I hear you grumbling, 'I do not want to decrease'.. Know then that you will not lose except the dregs that spoil your purity, and the worldly glory which is the dust that sticks to you.. You have to remove yourself of such glory to return clean as God has created you and as He wants you to be always. 

That concerns your relations with the others.., but I want to talk to you concerning your look towards yourself and how you ought to stand in the presence of God.. If you want the release of your spirit, stand before God as nothing.. Deny any knowledge or wisdom you have.. deny your intelligence and experience.. Stand in God's presence as an ignorant person who knows nothing.. But I do not mean that you feign ignorance or pretend this because God cannot be deceived and does not like those who pretend.. 

What I mean is to be convinced-in every matter-that your self must be concealed so that the Lord Jesus Christ may appear, not only before people, but also before yourself.. Say to Him, 'O Lord, I judge according to the appearances.. I am weak and cannot resist the devils.. The results of any work are in Your hand.."  Ask God to intervene and guide you, or to dwell in you and work through you.. Then, when the required thing is performed, thank God because it is He who did it not you.. And when people come to praise you do not boast or pretend to be humble but seize the opportunity and chant to them the psalm which says, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, let Israel now say-If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive... Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul."  (Ps. 124: 1-4) 

When you are fought with a certain sin, do not trust your power nor depend on your past triumph because sin, "..has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men." (Prov. 7:26).. But, be sure that victory is the Lord's and if He does forsake you in the slightest sins, you will be like the people of Sodom.. Chant then that beautiful psalm which says, " .. You knew my path. In the way in which I walk they have secretly set a snare for me. Look on my right hand and see, for there is no one who acknowledges me. Refuge has failed me; no one cares for my soul.. I cried out to You, O Lord: I said, 'You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living... Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I... (Ps. 142: 3-6)  

My beloved brother, you are nothing, and you have to admit this before God and before yourself.. Whenever you think that you are able to do something, come to your self and say: "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? " (Ex. 3:11) 

However, if God convinces you that He will be your mouth and will speak through your tongue and that you will be just an instrument, then proceed on your way. Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil; and though an army encamps against you, you will be confident in this.. At such time remember me, the unclean dust, so that we may meet together.. there..


 The Release of The Spirit
 By H.H. Pope Shenouda III


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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2 - HUMILITY: THE SECRET OF REDEMPTION




2 - HUMILITY:
THE SECRET OF REDEMPTION  


"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who… made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and took upon him he form of a servant ….. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him."
Philippians 2:5-9

No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. Through all its existence it can only live with the life that was in the seed that gave it being. The full apprehension of this truth in its application to the first and the Second Adam cannot but help us greatly to understand both the need and the nature of the redemption there is in Jesus. 

The Need for Redemption

When the old Serpent, he who had been cast out from heaven for his pride, whose whole nature as devil was pride, spoke his words of temptation into the ear of Eve, these words carried with them the very poison of hell. And when she listened, and yielded her desire and her will to the prospect of being as God, knowing good and evil, the poison entered into her soul and blood and life, destroying forever that blessed humility and dependence upon God which would have been our everlasting happiness. And instead of this, her life and the life of the race that sprang from her became corrupted to its very root with that most terrible of all sins and all curses, the poison of Satan's own pride. All the wretchedness of which this world has been the scene, all its wars and bloodshed among the nations, all its selfishness and suffering, all its ambitions and jealousies, all its broken hearts and embittered lives, with all its daily unhappiness, have their origin in what this cursed, hellish pride, either our own, or that of others, has brought us. It is pride that made redemption needful; it is from our pride we need above everything to be redeemed. And our insight into the need of redemption will largely depend upon our knowledge of the terrible nature of the power that has entered our being. 

No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. The power that Satan brought from hell, and cast into man's life, is working daily, hourly, with mighty power throughout the world. Men suffer from it; they fear and fight and flee it; and yet they know not whence it comes, whence it has its terrible supremacy. No wonder they do not know where or how it is to be overcome. Pride has its root and strength in a terrible spiritual power, outside of us as well as within us; as needful as it is that we confess and deplore it as our very own, is to know it in its Satanic origin. If this leads us to utter despair of ever conquering or casting it out, it will lead us all the sooner to that supernatural power in which alone our deliverance is to be found - the redemption of the Lamb of God. The hopeless struggle against the workings of self and pride within us may indeed become still more hopeless as we think of the power of darkness behind it all; the utter despair will fit us the better for realizing and accepting a power and a life outside of ourselves too, even the humility of heaven as brought down and brought nigh by the Lamb of God, to cast out Satan and his pride. 

No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. Even as we need to look to the first Adam and his fall to know the power of the sin within us, we need to know well the Second Adam and His power to give within us a life of humility as real and abiding and overmastering as has been that of pride. We have our life from and in Christ, as truly, yea more truly, than from and in Adam. We are to walk "rooted in Him," "holding fast the Head from whom the whole body increaseth with the increase of God." The life of God which in the incarnation entered human nature, is the root in which we are to stand and grow; it is the same almighty power that worked there, and thence onward to the resurrection, which works daily in us. Our one need is to study and know and trust the life that has been revealed in Christ as the life that is now ours, and waits for our consent to gain possession and mastery of our whole being.

In this view it is of inconceivable importance that we should have right thoughts of what Christ is, of what really constitutes Him the Christ, and specially of what may be counted His chief characteristic, the root and essence of all His character as our Redeemer.There can be but one answer: it is His humility. What is the incarnation but His heavenly humility, His emptying Himself and becoming man? What is His life on earth but humility; His taking the form of a servant? And what is His atonement but humility? "He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death." And what is His ascension and His glory, but humility exalted to the throne and crowned with glory? "He humbled Himself, therefore God highly exalted Him." In heaven, where He was with the Father, in His birth, in His life, in His death, in His sitting on the throne, it is all, it is nothing but humility. Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us. As the love and condescension of God makes Him the benefactor and helper and servant of all, so Jesus of necessity was the Incarnate Humility. And so He is still in the midst of the throne, the meek and lowly Lamb of God.

If this be the root of the tree, its nature must be seen in every branch and leaf and fruit. If humility be the first, the all-including grace of the life of Jesus,- if humility be the secret of His atonement,-then the health and strength of our spiritual life will entirely depend upon our putting this grace first too, and making humility the chief thing we admire in Him, the chief thing we ask of Him, the one thing for. which we sacrifice all else. 1-See Note "B" end of chapter.

Is it any wonder that the Christian life is so often feeble and fruitless, when the very root of the Christ life is neglected, is unknown? Is it any wonder that the joy of salvation is so little felt, when that in which Christ found it and brings it, is so little sought? Until a humility which will rest in nothing less than the end and death of self; which gives up all the honor of men as Jesus did, to seek the honor that comes from God alone; which absolutely makes and counts itself nothing, that God may be all, that the Lord alone may be exalted,-until such a humility be what we seek in Christ above our chief joy, and welcome at any price, there is very little hope of a religion that will conquer the world. 

I cannot too earnestly plead with my reader, if possibly his attention has never yet been specially directed to the want there is of humility within him or around him, to pause and ask whether he sees much of the spirit of the meek and lowly Lamb of God in those who are called by His name. Let him consider how all want of love, all indifference to the needs, the feelings, the weakness of others; all sharp and hasty judgments and utterances, so often excused under the plea of being outright and honest; all manifestations of temper and touchiness and irritation; all feelings of bitterness and estrangement,have their root in nothing but pride, that ever seeks itself, and his eyes will be opened to see how a dark, shall I not say a devilish pride, creeps in almost everywhere, the assemblies of the saints not excepted. Let him begin to ask what would be the effect, if in himself and around him, if towards fellow-saints and the world, believers were really permanently guided by the humility of Jesus; and let him say if the cry of our whole heart, night and day, ought not to be, Oh for the humility of Jesus in myself and all around me! Let him honestly fix his heart on his own lack of the humility which has been revealed in the likeness of Christ's life, and in the whole character of His redemption, and he will begin to feel as if he had never yet really known what Christ and His salvation is.

Believer! study the humility of Jesus. This is the secret, the hidden root of thy redemption. Sink down into it deeper day by day. Believe with thy whole heart that this Christ, whom God has given thee, even as His divine humility wrought the work for thee, will enter in to dwell and work within thee too, and make thee what the Father would have thee be.

Note B.-
"We need to know two things:
1. That our salvation consists wholly in being saved from ourselves, or that which we are by nature;
2. That in the whole nature of things nothing could be this salvation or savior to us but such a humility of God as is beyond all expression.

Hence the first unalterable term of the Savior to fallen man: Except a man denies himself, he cannot be My disciple. Self is the whole evil of fallen nature; self-denial is our capacity of being saved; humility is our savior ... Self is the root, the branches, the tree, of all the evil of our fallen state. All the evils of fallen angels and men have their birth in the pride of self. On the other hand, all the virtues of the heavenly life are the virtues of humility. It is humility alone that makes the unpassable gulf between heaven and hell. What is then, or in what lies, the great struggle for eternal life? It all lies in the strife between pride and humility: pride and humility are the two master powers, the two kingdoms in strife for the eternal possession of man. There never was, nor ever will be, but one humility, and that is the one humility of Christ. Pride and self have the all of man, till man has his all from Christ. He therefore only fights the good fight whose strife is that the self-idolatrous nature which he hath from Adam may be brought to death by the supernatural humility of Christ brought to life in him." 
Humility - Andrew Murray

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